Saturday, 15 July 2017

A little bit of diddle-y doing with Pierrot, Columbine and Harlequin .. people who came to my open studios will know that this is a bit of an ongoing project .. a quietly simmering pot on the back burner that I'm hoping to give more attention to after summer is done .. at the moment I am trying to feel my way into their characters; what drives them, what breaks them down, how they move, talk, live ...  so you can see that my scribbles are just scribbles but by the same token I like them and they feel like important scribbles, scribbles that are marks along the right path.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

And fixed up the dollhouse pram that I had when I was a child and that somewhere along the way lost a wheel and never got re-wheeled 

And then I made a tiny paintbrush out of some found cat hair and a twig and thread .. and it makes this mark 

Monday, 10 July 2017

And then yesterday my daughter and grandchildren came over to hang out and amongst other things we did my little grandaughter and I got creative and starting making some little people to inhabit the Polly Pocket clock - all the original inhabitants have moved on and who knows where they are living now. 
We made some heads for nails out some air-drying clay I had hanging about waiting to be useful and drew faces on them and Elidi made one dress but the head went missing. Anyways it was good play so I thought I'd blog the ones I finished this morning just because they made me smile. The best days are days spent with people you love. 

Now, having set up the Cley piece, I have a little respite from focused work and can drop back into my work play-space. This space is essential .. everything I do stems from having this freedom, without it I become locked down on every level. To an outsider it might look like nothing, like time-wasting, or dilly-dallying, in a goal orientated society that most values concrete achievement and speed, it would be marked F for fail. But it is in this delicate space that ideas spark in to life and start to find form .. and sometimes old ideas that have lain fallow surface and break through to become manifest, so it was a week or so back when I made a small thing that is the beginning of a larger body of work. It has an odd name, but the name is important. So too does the body of work but I shall have to see what else comes out of that body, I can feel things coming to the fore but nothing has made itself imperative yet. Anyways here is the little piece of work, it is photographed on my upstairs worktable and is not quite finished but almost .. 
The name is: Shirley Boyle, Strumpshaw Fen, Winter 2010.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Some pictures .. tomorrow is the day of the private view .. everyone is welcome .. and after that the exhibition runs for a month. I do not know if my standing sticks will last the whole duration .. so it is with love, so many chances for it to fail, luck is involved but also courage, determination, forgiveness, forbearance, kindness, respect and a willingness to be vulnerable, not an easy road but if you give yourself up to it it is the sweetest. 
Have I suggested that in the work I have put out ? I don't know .. I don't know if anyone but me will see that .. to many it will just be a line of sticks, it may even be an irritant to some .. but that's love for you .. you can't control the responses of others, it's a gamble ... love is a leap of faith, an act of hope, it is light breaking though darkness, joy taking the hand of grief and making good that which was bad. Love is a risk, but a risk that's a wonderful gift ... 


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Day 3 .. there is something poetic about taking three days though I had not intended to, and in all truth, if the weather had been more clement or if I'd been a car driver with a vehicle I'd have probably done it in two at the most. But there, that's not how it was, and so it took three days. 
This day did not start well, I'd gone to bed feeling unwell and woken three times from bad dreams, death and drowning and more death and chaotic travel, my glands were up and the inside of my face felt like it was full of infection, sinuses or lymphatic system maybe, it was not good. And the spot on my lip had reached teenage nightmare proportions. 
David came round and we loaded up the last of my bundles, there were twelve in all, 90 individual uprights made of sticks tied with strands from found beach rope and thick silk yarn. There is a fairy tale in there .. have I written it out already in a previous blog I will check before I tell it again. 
The weather was once again perfect. David came to look at what I'd put up already and made all the right noises, then he went off for a walk while I got on with finishing my line. 
As before the larks were singing, butterflies were fluttering, the same biggish brown ones and a few smallish coppery orange ones that I think might have been small skippers. I watched one of the skippers fly slalom through the length of my sticks which was a pretty lovely moment. 
After I'd done, I took more photos and then walked along the sea edge to meet David who, as it happened, was walking along the top of the beach towards me so we missed each other. But after a couple of texts we eventually met up, had a last look, popped in to the church where the main exhibition is mounted and then left Cley to get chips in Wells.
The chips in Wells felt quite celebratory and, although I was still feeling a bit rough and not at all with it, it had been another beautiful day. Sharing our chips with the seagulls and starlings was particularly special. 
Maybe I am boring on about setting up but it's all part of placing something, my physical presence and the physical presence of those I have spent time in a place with, are all very definite, concrete actualities even once they are passed time, passed moments, they belong like beads on a thread, this person, that person, that stream of thought that was going on then,  are layered over each other, my memories overlapping another's memories if a moment has been passed together and is also important, of worth, to them too. 
This stretch of coast is important to me ..  and all the more so since making this most recent piece of work .. I love it because it sets me free .. asks nothing of me but lets me be .. and I ask nothing of it except that it exists. This to me is a wonderful kind of love. 
Day 2 .. this day was a head out on the train and bus with a bundle of sticks day. I said to Amis before he left the day before that I would look quite mad, and he very sweetly said "no", I persisted and he said "well, if anyone can look quite mad and pull it off, it's you mum" words I have taken to treasure forever. I do love my children. 
Anyways, in the morning I set up with my bundle feeling a bit of a fool but thinking that really that's all part of loving oneself or another. The good, the bad, the foolish. And thinking about the fool in the Tarot pack which is a theme running through my mind at the moment and the fool's map that I am working on, and the map of my footsteps for Zannie's project and oh so many other things. and also thinking about the big ugly spot that had come up on my lip and was very painful and thinking about being a teenager or even now and expecting rejection whenever I got a spot or was less than attractive, or got something wrong. 
I think an important part of learning to love yourself is being able to accept your flaws, not in a blind to one's flaws way, but in an "oh, that is how it is but it is ok". And if we can give that to ourselves then we are more likely to be able to give others more wholehearted acceptance. 
And as it goes, as I was walking across town to the station people smiled at me for my sticks. It was ok to be different, to not conform. 
So, train journey, lots of note-taking, buddlieas flowering and evening primrose, brambles, rosebay willow herb, a few foxgloves, some privet. And the field were turning yellow though some had been hard beaten by the rain, and I wondered what farmers do when that happens, does the crop go to cattle feed maybe. 
Arriving in Sheringham there was a long wait for the bus and people were less amused by my sticks but that was ok I was on a mission. 
The journey to Cley is quick. And stepping off the bus and walking down the beach road it was odd and nice to think of having been there with Amis the day before. And all the other people I've visited with too who are all wrapped up in the work I've done, the time and space they have given me in being fellows on my road through life.
There is a point in the road where you look out and see Mike Dodd's sculpture on the beach .. it is pretty cool .. and it draws you towards it. He was setting up with a friend when I arrived and we had a quick chat before I headed along the beach wondering if my sticks from the day before had survived.
They had survived and they looked fine though the line I had planted was definitely not a straight line. There was a part of me thought to alter that curve but it felt like it was meant, was symbolic of how love cannot be controlled, planned and ordered in to place, or leastways not love as I know it. If the sun had shone the day before i probably would have made it straighter but it hadn't and so the line wobbles, a wobble is part and parcel of acceptance, part and parcel of "what the hey".
I set to digging the next batch of sticks into the ground. The larks were singing, and oyster catchers calling, every time I stepped back to look brown butterflies, I think maybe meadow brown's, fluttered up from the grass and the weather was purr-fect, warm but not hot, sunny then cloudy and little breeze, the sea was gently shushing just out of sight. This is the heaven that setting up on site is all about. Being in communion with nature. I don't have a god but if I did I think it might be this. Or maybe it is this I just don't care to call it god. 
Half way through Marion Johns the curator of the exhibition came to look with her bouncy black labrador who was loving the grasses and was a good dog test, I've left gaps in the line so that people and animals can get through easily. Marion seemed happy with the work which is important and that made two of us. There is always a nervous moment mounting a site specific thing for me as it's hard to know how it will look until it is up and then, of course, it's too late to turn back, it is what it is. 
Setting the sticks up didn't really take long. Afterwards i took quite a lot of photos and wandered along the beach, beach combing and being. Ate my packed lunch. And then headed back to the bus stop past Mike's now just about done piece. His friend offered me a lift home which I accepted and that was day 2. 
That was day 2, except when I got home I was beginning to feel quite ill.

For my records, Cley '17 Connectivity set up ..

Day 1 .. in my head this day was going to be it. The sun was going to shine. My wonderful son, Amis, who has just passed his driving test, had agreed to drive me out there with all that I needed and I figured that if I didn't get it all done, at leat I'd break the back of it and just have a few twigs to plant on the Thursday. 
Hmmm, life, like love, does not always go to plan. It began to rain the day before, heavy rain, but holding on to plan Amis turned up in the evening, and it was sweet to hang out and catch up as we hadn't seen each other for a little while. And the BBC forecast implied that wednesday would be not so bad, a light rain and dry in the afternoon. Ha. 
In the morning it was pouring. Thankfully I'd asked my friend David if I could borrow his waterproof trousers which he delivered to me before he went to work. He'd lent them to me before when we were out at Cley in the winter for an artist's meeting that didn't happen because the weather was too terrible and we just missed the message telling us it wasn't happening. That's an aside, but it's also all part of the journey of the piece of work and kind of met this set up day quite nicely. It's a creative link if you will.  
Anyways, car loaded with sticks, and masses of stuff I never used in the end, and leaving a little later than I had supposed we would in my head. And rain still raining, still raining hard. And Amis, said "right, I've not driven in the rain before, better work out how to turn on the wipers etc" .. we considered bailing, but he bravely went for it .. my son has the heart of a lion .. new driver, new roads, new weather conditions, and mum as passenger. I'm just going to take a moment to gush here, I hadn't really taken in to consideration how much of a thing it would be for him taking me, selfish emotional laziness on my part, but he did what he does, and got on with it, with his usual good humour and courage, that makes my heart swell with love and brings a little tear to my eye. 
Anyways, we drove, he drove, and as a mum it is/was reassuring to know that he is a good driver, to the beach. But. But, we were nearly stumped by an enormous puddle blocking our way. Still he did a quick 3point turn and parked up and I got booted and suited to walk out alone with just a couple of bundles of  my sticks while he parked up at the NWT building and waited for me to be done. 
I walked out in the rain, thinking how interesting it is the way life, love and weather, will do what they will and how we fare depends a lot on how well we are able to adapt to the vagaries that are thrown at us. 
I got to the beach, the waves were crashing, the wind was blowing, the rain was still pouring .. I had a moment of fear stepping on to the beach hoping that the waves were not going to pour over the shingle bank but decided to hope for the best and go for it. 
Once I was in my patch I set to work and put up the first fifteen uprights. It didn't take long and was actually quite exhilarating and fun once I'd bitten back my fear of the sea. It was nice to do it alone and in rough conditions, allowed me to feel very at one with the elements and sparkly inside. 
Once done I took a few photos through a rain spattered lens and quickly headed back to the carpark soaked through and very happy. And there was more joy because Amis had run down the little coast road to meet me because he is kind like that and had felt bad about making me walk all the way to him. 
And then we went back to my house and had a cup of tea before he headed back home to where he is living at the moment. It might not seem like the biggest adventure but I think we both felt like adventurers when we got in. 
So I dedicate day 1 set up to Amis, king of road, my son and friend. Thank you Amis.